MBA Advice: What I Wish I'd Known

Posted by: Geoff Gloeckler on August 16, 2011

Thousands of new MBA students are about to start class, and thousands more are beginning the B-school application process. With that in mind, Bloomberg Businessweek asked its social media fans and followers to reflect on their own MBA experiences and to share snippets of advice with new the students and applicants.

We asked “What advice do you wish you’d been given when you were first starting your #MBA program?” on both @BWBschools and @BW Twitter feeds and on our Facebook page. Here are some of the best answers:

1)start networking immediately, 2) tailor your story
@zarrasstelios: have good answers when the ask you why you came back to bschool, what have you done professionally so far, etc

@cutyourlosses: Before starting Wharton, I wish I focused more on my passion. Following your passion and applying it to your community = happiness

@MBAmoms: Don’t choose an elective based on professor’s rep alone. If you’re not truly interested in the subject you WILL regret it!

@Cooleysean: network with group of different people with different skills and start something

Advice for starting out: Smile, be nice, be open - you never know who will be your next business partner, mentor, or best friend!

@Bmrothenberg: Don't do what others think you should do, or what everyone else is doing. Decide what you want and hustle to get it.

@Siddharthkawoor: don't come in thinking you will figure it out here. Think hard and strong about what you want out of it before you get here.

Jocelyn B.: There's a lot of math involved - Statistics, accounting, calculus and more. If you're not a math-oriented person, back out early on and study something else.

Allison S.: stay on top of current events

Ebrahim A.: Unless you are ready to face the real world by all its means and facts, and unless you are ready to begin the journey of "Change" in all the aspects of your life, then you better look for something else to do.

Derrel W.: Realize that a MBA provides you with a great, technical foundation to build success upon, but not THE key to success. Be prepared to learn just as much, if not more, after graduation and upon beginning your career.

Charles Aaron B.:
Develop other skills. No employer wants to know that you completed an MBA program. It's more of an enhancement than a starting point.

Recent grads, what's the advice you wish you had been given before starting business school? Share it in the comments.

--Kiah Lau Haslett

Reader Comments


August 16, 2011 3:55 PM

If you can't get into a top ten school, or have an employer who will pay you to get the degree while you work, then look for something else to do. Then be ready to move anywhere to take any job after your degree.


August 16, 2011 3:59 PM

Dont underestimate the advice of mentors whom havn't studied an MBA and try to find the disconnect between their success and the things you are being taught.

Alex Batler

August 16, 2011 4:41 PM

MBA will give you a lot of tools for analyzing why NOT to pursue an idea. You will then have to retrain yourself to pursue good ideas despite all the risks involved. Basically, if you have no good ideas, MBA may be good for you. If you have good ideas, don't bother with MBA, just go for it!


August 16, 2011 5:06 PM

1) First, business school is not the right thing for everyone - and I agree with previous advice that it really only makes sense to attend a top program. There are a number of very real opportunity costs to being there (including $100k+ in student loans). The best reason to go is to make a career switch but there are other reasons that make sense (get to the next level in current career, etc.).

2) If you go, remember that your #1 purpose in being in B-School is to get a job/launch a new career when you come out (or at least spend a lot of time trying to figure it out). An important part of that is networking, making friends and contacts (as well as passing your classes and just having fun), but make finding a summer internship in first year and then full time job in second year should be your main focus.

3) Have fun, get to know lots of people and take time to get to know a core group really well. At a top school, these are some very accomplished and motivated people, and many will likely become life long friends and do some really interesting things. So, do have fun!

South Looper

August 16, 2011 5:27 PM

The academics at B-school aren't that hard. What is hard is performing an effective job search/personal marketing campaign. Start that very early and research every angle, including networking with alumni as much as possible.


August 17, 2011 2:33 AM

The MBA will dispel any ideological illusions about common good and open up your mind to the way the world really works, i.e. survival of the fittest.

But this mindset is only the beginning. The MBA will only give you the tools that the competition has, and it is up to you to then out-think, out-strategize, out-sense... everyone else looking for the same thing you are... a relatively decent standard of living.

Which means that you will be able to perform on the level of the best and brightest, but in so doing, will be able to unconsciously push away all those that are less fortunate.

It's definitely worth it to be in the same mindset as the entrepreneurs and professionals who run society.

Omar sharief

August 17, 2011 4:37 PM

Do not study MBA without having gained some significant work experience , biggest error that students make is get into studying MBA without having an understanding of organizations, organization culture, companies goals and objectives. Most of my MBA assignments require me to quote from my work experience and what I would do to change or improve.
Second, do not study MBA for personal gains, such as (this is actually true in Asian countries) better dating and marriage proposals , a corporate manager at GE (i started off my career with GE) once told me, when you chase money you lose focus of objectives in lif , focus on upgrading your skills and money will follow.


August 18, 2011 1:04 PM

What does someone pursuing a MBA have to look forward to?

If someone is not strong in math, what could they do before starting classes to help increase these skills and better prepare for grad school?

If someone has not taken a business class, and has only earned practical experience, what would you recommend for them?

What else would you recommend that someone do before starting a MBA program?

Thanks all!


August 24, 2011 12:32 AM

There would be ups and downs. As the economy changes - many would advice on giving up the high ambitions you started with when you joined the MBA program.

Take it easy. And continue to try as much as you can for the job you wanted after MBA. Giving up is easy - but if you have invested as much time and money already - try harder - in the end be pragmatic but dont give up quickly

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